In the early morning of Sept. 11, 2001, 8-year-old Zoe Falkenberg boarded American Airlines Flight 77 at Dulles International Airport and took her seat in the middle of the row between her father Charles and her 3-year-old sister Dana. Zoe’s mother, Leslie Whittington, sat across the aisle. This flight bound for Los Angeles International Airport was the first leg of their journey to Australia.
Leslie was about to begin a two-month fellowship as a visiting scholar at Australian National University in Canberra. Charles had taken leave from his job so the family could share the adventure together.
Although she was one of the smallest in her class, Zoe’s teacher at University Park Elementary School in Maryland remembered that she was one of the brightest. She loved to read—especially the Harry Potter series. Zoe had plans for a joint Beanie Babies party with her friend Katie when she returned from her trip abroad.
The Falkenbergs would not reach Australia. Soon after the plane took off, hijackers overtook it and crashed it into the Pentagon. All aboard perished, including Zoe. Today would have been her 23rd birthday.
By 9/11 Memorial Staff